Chemically Impaired Nurses

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Chemically- Impaired Nurses

Jaime Littles
Christina Mazzeo
Sociology 101
Research Paper
When deciding to enter the stressful and demanding field of nursing, I asked myself how will I physically, mentally, and emotionally deal with the demands of the profession? It takes a lot of long hours, knowledge of procedures and practices, and devotion to patients and their families. So how do nurses deal with the demands of their job? It has surprised me that in researching the profession that ten to twenty percent of practicing nurses have substance abuse problems. Substance abuse is defined as using excessive amounts of drugs or alcohol beyond their specified purpose. I chose to research this particular social problem because it concerns me that so many individuals are choosing to enter the nursing field to specifically help or care for the well-being of others, but are putting lives in danger by working under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Nurses handle, measure, and administer most of the medication given to hospitalized patients, giving them the most access to controlled substances. The reasons given for most of the drug abuse among nurses is psychological distress, physical exhaustion, and job dissatisfaction. It was interesting to learn that 10 percent of drug abuse begins while attending nursing school. At Salem Community College, drug testing is administered during the nursing program to prohibit the use of drugs and anyone with a previous drug charge may not apply to the program. I believe schools are trying to limit the amount of potential drug users from entering the profession.

When trying to propose solutions on how to combat this issue, one must use the three main sociological perspectives. First, the symbolic interactionist perspective uses symbols to consider details of everyday life and how people interact with each other. A symbolic interactionist may believe that drug use is a learned experience. Without someone showing...
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